At the end of the Los Angeles Lakers pitiful loss to the Los Angeles Clippers–a loss that gave the Clippers their first ever Pacific Division title, and their first sweep over the Lakers in 50 years–Dwight Howard proclaimed he was “pissed.” The quote came in the post-game press conferences, as Howard was visibly upset with what had occurred. “They beat us all year,” Howard said in reference to the four game sweep, a sight that Laker fans of this generation have never seen.
As odd as the sight of the Clippers celebrating a division title was, a glance at the stat sheet to see that Howard only had four rebounds was even odder. The fact that the Clippers do not have an elite level defender in the low post had me baffled throughout the game as rebound after rebound skipped away from the grasp of Howard’s gigantic hands. Then I realized something, if you watch Howard throughout a game you will realize this, he does not consistently box, in fact he rarely does.
Go back and watch a few Laker games and tell me I’m wrong. Time after time Howard simply darts after the ball, and many times he will wind up choosing the right path, but in some cases he wont. The lack of fundamental rebounding by Howard yesterday cost the Lakers many times. The Clippers enjoyed a 50-36 rebounding edge, a number of those coming on the offensive end of the floor, something that, in my opinion, should never happen when Howard is in the middle.
On an off night Howard should have at least 10 boards, his height, athleticism, and strength should afford him that number easily, but four is just inexcusable. As is the four game sweep to the Clippers. If the Lakers are going to build their future around Dwight Howard then they better have an exceptional backup plan, because he is not the answer.
Compare him to Kobe Bryant, a player who has had incredible success in clutch situations. Without even pointing to the fact that Kobe has five NBA titles while Howard has none, every player is not given an opportunity at a ring, Howard just does not have a knack for the clutch situations. It seems that every time the Lakers need Howard the most, he withers.
His statement a season ago when he proclaimed he wants the ball at the end of games was just a ploy, a player talking the talk, not walking the walk. If Howard is so pissed that the Clippers whipped them this season, then maybe he should show it with an increased level of play.
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